A Good Year for RENEW
Radnorshire Enterprise for Nature, Education and Wellbeing (RENEW
The project has made significant progress on a lot of fronts during the last year and 2011 should, with luck, see us moving even closer to our goal of becoming an education centre for sustainable living offering residential and non residential courses and learning experiences in the walled garden.
In spring 2010 we received an offer of a Single Investment Fund grant from the Welsh Assembly Government. RENEW has used this grant to fund feasibility studies on a new entrance to the walled garden and to look into the possibility of generating hydro electricity from the stream that runs beside the garden. It has also funded the costing of plans for the infrastructure development of the walled garden and a detailed business and marketing plan. The information gained can now be used to back applications for funding which, if secured, will enable us to go ahead with the full development work. RENEW is currently looking into applying for funding from the Big Lottery Fund and if we are successful in our bid, we hope to fund the development of the walled garden from this source. It is also possible that we might get funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the walls and old greenhouses of the garden.
Alongside the work on funding, RENEW is also currently in discussion with Coleg Harlech about developing accredited courses at the walled garden. The college is quite keen to move into this area of Wales and they see great potential in what the walled garden can offer. The ability to provide courses with real qualifications at the end of them will be a real boost for us and for the area. A meeting with the college management has been arranged for 18th April to discus how best we can take the partnership forward.
In June 2010, RENEW held a mid summer fund raising concert in the garden. The turnout was very good and although the midges did their best to spoil the evening, the event went down very well. Last year also saw RENEW hosting the 30th anniversary celebration weekend of the Welsh branch of the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens in early September. Although the weather over the weekend was none to good, the event was great fun and very enjoyable. A number of RENEW members helped with organising and running the event and a big thanks to them for all the hard work that they put in. We are hoping to hold something similar in the summer this year.
Work in the garden itself has continued throughout 2010 and we now have a brand new seating area complete with pond just inside the top gate. Also, nearly completed is a large fruit cage in which we can grow soft fruit along with 2 fig trees fan trained onto the south facing wall. Our growing spaces scheme has also moved on and we now have six allotments in the garden utilising nine growing beds. This year we plan to apply for some small grants to enable us to install timber sides to the growing beds and to continue the gravelled paths further around the garden. Both these measures should make maintenance easier and improve the look of the garden.
In May 2011, RENEW will be running a stall and display at the annual smallholders show at the showground in Builth Wells. We were asked by the organisers if we would like a free stall in exchange for your Chairman giving a talk to the public on the Saturday afternoon. It seemed to be too good a chance to miss as the weekend should give us a chance to get across what we are doing to a wider audience. All members are welcome to call in to see us if you are at the show.
Other summer fund raising events and courses are currently at the planning stage, so for details of what might be going on please check out our website for further information.
It looks like 2011 is shaping up to be an interesting year and one that might see RENEW and the walled garden taking a big step forward towards our goal of becoming an education centre.
David Burridge (Chair)